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Getting The Right Treatment
These days there are lots of choices within the NHS. Make the right choice, at the right time and you will get the best possible treatment.
We know it can sometimes be difficult to decide what kind of help you need when you or your family have a health problem and we hope this page helps to explain all the options available to you.
Coughs and Colds in Children
An average primary schoolchild with have 6 to 8 coughs or colds a year. When children mix with each other germs are passed around more frequently. Younger children tend to catch colds from older brothers/sisters, who bring germs home from school.
What causes them? ....... The majority of coughs and colds are caused by a virus. There are many different types that can infect the nose and throat. They spread in tiny droplets through the air, coughing and sneezing passes them on to others. Children who live with someone who smokes are known to develop more coughs and colds than average. This is because cigarette smoke interferes with the nose and mouth's natural defence against viruses. All parents are familiar with a coughing child, with or without a blocked or runny nose. In addition a raised tem- perature (fever), a sore throat, tiredness and being 'off food' is common. To vomit after a coughing fit is NOT uncommon. Usually the child is not very ill but is just not 'himself' or 'herself'. The cough is quite often worse at night.
Symptoms may last for up to one week. However, an irritating cough may linger for up to 2 weeks after the other symptoms have gone. Coughing does not damage the lungs. In fact, it helps to protect the lungs from serious infection. A coughing child will not choke or stop breath- ing. Despite the many cough medicines available at the chemist, no medicine will stop a cough. Decongestants may help a bunged up nose. Paracetamol (Calpol etc.) should be given to cool a fever and soothe a painful throat. Some cough medicines contain drugs that make children sleepy, which may be useful a bedtime. They will not stop the cough but sleep may be less dis- turbed. It is important to give lots of drink. As the cause is usually a virus, antibiotics are ineffective. Most coughs and colds get better as the body's immune system fights them off. Occasionally more serious infections develop such as ear infections, pneumonia etc. Wheeziness, persis- tent earache, fast breathing, difficulty breathing, persistent high temperature, worsening drowsiness or chest pains may indicate a more serious infection. A check over from your doctor will be reassuring, even if the doctor doesn't prescribe any medication.
Cystitis is an inflammation inside the bladder. It can affect any woman of any age, men and children can get it too, although this is less common. Cystitis can be very painful and distressing but it is not usually a danger to your health. Most attacks are caused when bacteria from the back passage enters the bladder through the opening - the urethra. Because the opening to be bowel and bladder are so close together in women it is very easy for bacteria to pass from one to the other. Non-bacterial cystitis is the result of the bladder being irritated by perfumed soaps, bath additives, vaginal deodorants etc., also friction and bruising during sex. Tight underwear and trousers can also cause friction.
Sign and symptoms can be one or more of the following:
1. A burning feeling when you pass water, sometimes there can be blood in the urine or it may be cloudy.
2. A feeling that you need to pass water very frequently even though there may be hardly any urine to pass.
3. A dragging ache in the lower back abdomen.
What to do:
At the first signs DRINK plenty of fluid. This will help flush the germs out of the bladder and dilute the urine, making it easier to pass. Over the counter remedies are available from the chemist which work by neutralising the urine and making it harder for the bacteria to grow. If you are taking any other medication, have heart trouble or high blood pressure, consult your doctor before taking these. Take painkillers, following the instructions supplied with the tablets. Rest and place hot water bottles wrapped in a towel on your lower back and between the thighs. Some find that drinking Cranberry Juice or Barley Water can help ease the symptoms. If an attack does not clear in a couple of days, make an appointment to see your GP or practice nurse. Also make an appointment if your are pregnant, if you notice blood in your urine or the sufferer is a child. Take early morning samples of urine to the surgery with you. If this shows bacteria you will probably be given a short course of antibiotics. The sample will then be sent to the hospital for confirmation, sometimes you may need to change the antibiotic given. You must complete the course.
Tips on how to help prevent an attack of Cystitis:
Drink plenty of fluid every day, about 3 pints. Pass water when you need to, don't hang on and make sure your bladder is empty. Wipe yourself from front to back, avoid perfumed soap, talc and deodorants in the genital area. Avoid wearing tight trousers and choose cotton underwear. Empty your bladder and wash the genital area after sexual intercourse. Use a lubricating gel if friction causes soreness during sex.
Colds & Flu (adults)
There is no cure. Antibiotics will not help. If nothing is coughed up it is because the chest is not infected. No treatment is required. Go to bed, keep your nose clear by blowing it often and inhaling steam and Karvol etc. Suck throat pastilles and take frequent drinks. If feverish, take Paracetamol or Aspirin (not on an empty stomach). If you become wheezy or start to bring up yellow or green phlegm throughout the day, arrange an appointment at the surgery.
Children with Temperatures
Small children often have high temperatures with even minor illnesses such as colds and viral infections. This is part of the normal development of natural immunity. It does not indicate serious illness. Cool the child down by removing clothes and sponging with tepid water for 10 minutes. If the child is fretful, give paracetamol (e.g.. Calpol etc.) do not give Aspirin. Give plenty of drinks but don't worry if the child does not eat for a few days. If the child is very drowsy or complains of earache for more than an hour or so, arrange an appointment at the surgery.
Sickness & Diarrhoea
A common condition, especially in children during the winter months, as well as after holidays. Most cases are due to virus infections and may be associated with colds. Most recover after a few days. It is important not to take medicine to stop diarrhoea as this can prolong the illness by preventing the elimination of the virus. Dioralyte, or a similar electrolyte solution, can be obtained from a chemist without prescription. What is lost must be replaced in volume. If you are vomiting start with an egg cup full every 10/15 minutes and build up gradually. Wash your hands carefully after using the lavatory - avoid spreading infection. Arrange to be seen by a doctor if not recovered after 4 days, or if symptoms recur after treatment.
Apply large quantities of cold water to the affected area as soon as possible and maintain this until the pain subsides. If the skin is unbroken but blistered apply a loose dressing. If the burn is larger then 4 or 5 inches in diameter or if the skin is broken consult a doctor as soon as possible.
Babies and small children should not be left in the sun as they will burn easily. Treat sunburn by cooling the affected skin with lots of water and repeat frequently for the first 24 hours. Give paracetamol (e.g. Calpol etc.) if the child is uncomfortable. Frequent drinks should be taken. If the child remains unwell after 24 hours arrange to see a doctor. Keep out of the sun. Sun burning increases the risk of skin cancer.
Back, Strains and Sprains
Many acute sprains and strains will respond to a few days rest. Paracetamol can be taken for pain. Initially a few hours resting an acute sprain with elevation and ice pack is effective. Acute backache will usually respond to a few days bed rest. If the symptoms continue consult your doctor.
An itchy bottom or restless child at night could be threadworms. The female (1/4 inch long, like a piece of thin thread) lay eggs by the anus at night. Vermox on prescription will eradicate them after 1 dose and a repeat dose after 2 weeks will reduce re-infection. Treat the whole family and cut finger nails short.. Wearing pants for a few nights helps to reduce scratching and re-infection if the problem keeps recurring.
An allergy causing irritation of the eyes, nose and throat. It is sometimes associated with seasonal asthma. The symptoms can effectively controlled by antihistamines which may be obtained from a chemist.
These are common in the summer. They look like spots about 1/4 inch across. They are very itchy and usually appear on exposed parts of the arms and legs etc. The itching can be relieved by Calamine lotion and/or an antihistamine from the chemist.
The rash starts on the first day of the illness. It begins as small, scattered patches about 3-4mm across. In a few hours small blisters appear within the red spots. Over the next few days more spots will appear and earlier spots will become crusty and eventually the crusts will fall off. Children may return to school when the last crusts have separated. The most infectious time is 1/3 days before and 5 days after the rash appears. Calamine lotion and cool baths help the itching.
The rash is blotchy, red and covers the face and much of the body. It is usually slightly raised but without blisters. It does not itch. The rash appears on the 4th day of the illness. It is most infectious for a few days before the rash appears and lasts for 8/10 days. Measles is prevented by immunisation. Ear and chest infections are a common complication. If a fever develops the child should be seen by a doctor.
The rash is pale pink, slightly rough about 2-4mm. It usually covers the back and front of the chest, arms and legs and doesn't itch. It comes on the first day of the illness and usually lasts for less than a week. It is infectious from 1-2 before the rash, until it fades (usually 5 days). This illness is usually very mild. Very occasionally joint pains are troublesome and if this happens you should be seen by a doctor. Tell anyone who has been close to the person infected that they may have German Measles. The only serious risk is to the unborn child of a pregnant woman (less than 16 weeks since last period). If you are pregnant and have been in contact with German Measles you should see your doctor.
This illness is usually quite mild and simple treatment is all that is required. Usually the swelling is on one side of the face, just behind the angle of the jaw, the other side may swell after a few days. There may also be swelling on either side of the chin. It is infectious for 2-3 days before the glands swell until 7 days after the swelling has gone. If accompanied by severe stomach pain contact your doctor.
Sit in a chair (leaning forward with your mouth open) and pinch your nose just below the bony bridge for about 10-15 minutes, by which time the bleeding usually stops. Do not eat or drink anything hot for 24 hours. If the bleeding continues consult your doctor.
Small Cuts & Grazes
Wash well with soap and water. If bleeding, press firmly over cut with a clean dressing for 5 minutes. Cover with a clean dressing. Deep or gaping cuts will need stitching.
Headlice prefer clean hair and are not a sign of poor hygiene. Contact your Health Visitor for advice on the appropriate up-to-date treatment. If treatment is necessary it can be ob- tained from a chemist without a prescription.
NHS Call 111
NHS Call 111 (which has replaced NHS Direct) is a 24-hour, confidential, nurse led, telephone service which provides health advice and reassurance if you feel unwell and are not sure what to do. It can also provide help to find the nearest pharmacist, GP or dentist.
Call 111 when its less urgent than 999.
Further information on all aspects of health and healthcare can be found at www.nhs.uk where you can look up your symptoms, check many conditions and treatments.
Pharmacists are experts in the use of medicines, who can offer free professional health advice without the need for an appointment, on the treatment of common health problems such as coughs and colds. They will also advise you if you need to see a doctor or nurse and can answer questions about prescribed and over-the-counter medicines. To find your local pharmacist, including details of opening hours, please visit: www.nhs.uk/servicedirectories or Dial 111
For the Doctors appointments you have the following options:-
- You may book an appointment in advance, normally up to two weeks.
- A large percentage of our appointments can be booked on the day for conditions that need to be seen where a pre-booked appointment is not appropriate.
Appointments are also offered for a telephone consultation with your Doctor when a face to face consultation is not necessary i.e. reporting back on an ongoing condition where examination is not necessary, a query with medication, request for a sick note etc.
Where possible we will book you an appointment with your preferred GP at your registered site; If your problem is more urgent, this may not always be possible and you will be offered an appointment with one of the other GPs within the surgery.
Norwich Practices’ Health and Walk In Centre (formerly Timber Hill Health Centre), Rouen House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RB. Tel: 0300 0300 333. Open 7 days a week, 9am-7pm.